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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

The lack of income tax in Monaco "has worked well for the Principality," according to Gabriele Marcotti of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The tax break "has had a pleasant knock-on effect" for the local football team, AS Monaco. It can sign players who qualify for the "tax free" status and effectively "pay them in net terms, saving itself tens of millions of dollars a year in the process." Last year, the French Football League (LFP) "sought to end this anomaly by passing regulations whereby every club needed to have its corporate headquarters on French soil." By forcing Monaco to base itself in France, "its employees would be subject to French taxation." Predictable threats of legal action from both sides followed until, on Friday, "a settlement was announced." Monaco would make a one-time payment of $68.3M and the LFP "would drop all efforts to bring it into the French fiscal fold." It "was the equivalent of paying a lump sum in exchange for never again being bothered." On the surface, "it looks as if Monaco made out like a bandit on this one." The one-off payment "is hefty," but a quick calculation of the Monaco players eligible for tax-free status and their salaries suggests that "the club will make that money back in savings in less than three seasons." The argument that the LFP actually got a good deal "is somewhat flimsy, but includes the following factors." First off, Monaco "is paying that money to the LFP and not to the French tax authorities." And, ultimately, "a strong, wealthy Monaco helps pump money into the French game" (WSJ, 1/26).

The "lack of Asian players in the A-League could lead to the introduction of a designated Asian-only football visa," according to Sebastian Hassett of THE AGE. Of the 44 overseas players in the competition, "only one -- Western Sydney Wanderers marquee Shinji Ono -- comes from Asia." Talk about a "designated Asian spot has bubbled away for some time and has even been discussed by the governing body before, only for the discussions to go nowhere." But FFA CEO David Gallop, who "returned from the annual Asian Football Confederation meeting in Oman on Sunday night, believes it's time the league converted one of the five foreign spots for each A-League club into an Asian position" (THE AGE, 1/28).

Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin "has sold out its last home game of the season against Borussia Dortmund on May 10 in record time." Hertha GM Michael Preetz tweeted, "Wahnsinn! Das letzte Heimspiel am 10. Mai gegen den BVB war 118 Minuten nach Verkaufsstart ausverkauft! Danke für eure Unterstützung!" ... ("Unbelievable! The last home game against the BVB on May 10 was sold out 118 minutes after tickets went on sale! Thank you for your support!") (SID, 1/27). ... The Czech and Slovak football federations "are considering setting up a common cup competition for clubs from the two nations that once formed Czechoslovakia." Slovak federation Chair Jan Kovacik said that "four clubs from each country would play in the competition." He said that "the federations are planning a meeting in February to discuss whether the idea would work" (AP, 1/23). ... The Asian Football Confederation "plans to expand the Asian Cup from 16 to 24 teams" as part of a raft of changes designed to increase the number of int'l matches for member nations (ZEE NEWS, 1/26). ... Serie A side Genoa's derby with Sampdoria next Sunday "is being boycotted by supporters' groups on both sides because of the early kick-off time." The match at Stadio Luigi Ferraris is kicking off at 12:30 local time on Sunday "so that it can be shown live" on TV (BBC, 1/24). ... Liverpool supporters group Spirit of Shankly has written to Arsenal urging it not to charge away fans almost £100 ($166) "to attend next month’s FA Cup tie between the clubs." Sunday’s fifth-round draw "immediately sparked fears" that many of the 9,000 Liverpool fans who travel to London for the mid-February fixture will face ticket prices of £93 ($154), "thought to be one of the most expensive ever prices for an away ticket in English football" (London TELEGRAPH, 1/27).